(Bus number 756, were in Israel on June 9th-19th)

On one of our most recent Taglit-Birthright Israel: MAYANOT trips, we had a bat mitzvah girl in our midst, although she was not the typical age of twelve or thirteen, we wanted to help her celebrate nonetheless.

Not everyone is lucky enough to celebrate a bat mitzvah but when participants come with us to Israel we try and make sure everyone has the opportunity to celebrate.

This is the amazing speech Lauren Messano, from Westchester NY, gave as she was standing on Masada being Bat Mitzvahed,

“Growing up half Jewish and half Catholic and not very religious it was difficult to figure out my identity through religion. My parents told me it was up to me whether I wanted to go to CCD or Hebrew school as long I was happy. We would still celebrate the high holidays. However I never really knew what either of them truly meant. It seemed as if I was making a choice between my mom and dad in "choosing" what religion I would practice. I didn't want to make the other parent feel bad if I didn't choose theirs. I started Hebrew school for 2 months but with the stress of thinking my dad was mad at me for not choosing to be catholic and starting as a late bloomer attending Hebrew school and having so much work to catch up on in Hebrew school I decided it wasn't for me. Now being on this trip with all of you all I realize it never had to be a choice. The answer was always deep within in me it just took all of you guys and this beautiful country of Israel to connect with Judaism. Today being at the Masada and being able to consider myself a woman and have you all here to celebrate is an honor. I have learned so much and know this is just the beginning of my connection to my Jewish roots and am hopeful and excited for what is to come. I'm so happy to have met you all and thank birthright for this opportunity to find myself as well as a new Jewish family in which we all share this special bond from our journey these past 10 days. Even though we might not all be in the holy land of Israel together again, I will always cherish these memories and friendships made and hope we cross paths again”.